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Donald McCluskey ’42 BE, ’59 MEng
(1921 – 2022)

Noted environmentalist and philanthropist Donald “Don” McCluskey ’42 BE, ’59 MEng died in August in Mystic, Connecticut. He was 101. Known for his commitment to local and global conservation efforts, McCluskey and his wife, Dorothy ’73 MFS, who died in 2013, were  scholars, researchers, and longtime supporters of YSE.

Don and Dorothy McCluskey standing together
Don and Dorothy McCluskey

Born in New Haven in 1921, Don served in World War II and later pursued humanitarian work at the United Nations International Refugee Organization. He met Dorothy on a trip to Stowe, Vermont, with a New Haven ski club. She was working at Yale at the time, and he was pursuing a master’s degree in engineering. They married in 1954 and settled in Northford, Connecticut, where they raised three children. A successful engineer, Don co-founded Unholtz-Dickie Corporation, which developed vibration shakers adopted by NASA and a number of aerospace companies and automobile makers.

In 1973, Dorothy became the second woman to earn a Master of Forest Science at YSE (then called Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies), concentrating on environmental planning and water resource management. She was active in numerous conservation efforts, including serving as project manager for the Connecticut Inland Wetlands Project and as director of government relations for The Nature Conservancy’s Connecticut chapter. She was a Connecticut state representative from 1975 to 1982.

The couple continued their lifelong environmental efforts on Block Island, where they spent their summers. Don helped form the Block Island Solar Initiative, which combats fossil fuels by converting homes to solar power and promoting electrification of cars, lawn mowers, and other gas-powered devices. He also advocated for regenerative agriculture, renewable energy, and biodiversity.

The couple also continued to support Yale and YSE throughout their lives. Don endowed the Yale Scholars Program with a gift named in honor of his brother, Robert T. McCluskey, who graduated from Yale College in 1944 and was a pioneer in the field of immunopathology. Don was also an active member of the YSE Leadership Council. In 2002, Dorothy endowed the Dorothy S. McCluskey Visiting Fellowship in Conservation. The fellowship enables leaders from the non-profit environmental sector — particularly female conservationists from around the world — to spend up to a year pursuing research and scholarship at YSE.

“We all share a very small planet, so we all also share responsibility for using it wisely before passing it on to future generations,” Dorothy said in a 2002 Yale interview about the fellowship.

Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan and founder of the grassroots Green Belt Movement, was among the first to be named a McCluskey Fellow. Maathai was a widely recognized activist for democracy, women’s rights, and conservation. In 2004, Maathai became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her "contribution to sustainable development, democracy, and peace.”

Dekila Chungyalpa, who was a McCluskey Fellow in 2014, said the McCluskeys’ commitment to supporting environmentalists produced a ripple effect, with benefits spreading to numerous regions and communities around the globe. Chungyalpa founded and directs the Loka Initiative, an outreach and capacity-building program for faith leaders and the Indigenous community focusing on environmental and climate issues.

“I am grateful I had the chance to express my gratitude to Donald directly. I wish I had met Dorothy, whose commitment to supporting non-profit environmental managers and scientists — many of whom were women or came from the Global South — resulted in so many wonderful environmental leaders finding a much-needed resting space and sanctuary even as they continue the marathon to protect all life on Earth,” Chungyalpa says.

Eleanor Sterling ’83 BA, ’93 PhD
(1960 – 2023)

Eleanor Sterling
Eleanor Sterling

Eleanor Sterling, an internationally renowned scholar in biocultural diversity, conservation policy, and resource management, died of cancer February 11, 2023, in Hawaii.

Sterling’s wide-ranging career as both an academic and practitioner spanned biological conservation, scientific research, environmental education, and program administration. She studied more than a dozen languages and conducted more than three decades of fieldwork in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Oceania, including seminal research on the nocturnal aye-aye, an endangered primate in Madagascar.

As director of the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Sterling worked with community members to reinstate Indigenous agricultural and fishery systems. She spearheaded an initiative supporting the intergenerational transfer of land management knowledge by Indigenous communities for the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s World Commission on Protected Areas. She was chief scientist for the Center for Biodiversity & Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City for 14 years.

In 2016, she was awarded Yale’s prestigious Wilbur Cross Medal in honor of her “enormous impact in spheres ranging from the communication of conservation science to the public to front-line research on endangered species and ecosystems around the planet,” and she received the YSE Distinguished Alumni Award in 2018. She was a 2023 recipient of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Fred M. Packard Award.

In a past visit and discussion at Yale, Sterling emphasized the need for conservationists to work across disciplines.

“When you are in the field of conservation, there are so many issues [that are so complex], you need to be thinking from a number of different angles. Being able to develop those skills … those multidisciplinary perspectives, I think is fundamental,” she said.

Dean Indy Burke remembers Sterling’s myriad contributions to the field of environmental conservation and the YSE community.

“Eleanor’s multidisciplinary knowledge base, extraordinary energy, and ability to unite parties with diverse interests around a common goal made tremendous impacts in the fields of conservation and environmental education,” Burke says. “Her thoughtful engagement and complex understanding of field research and conservation will be deeply missed throughout the YSE and Yale communities.”

Peter Arnold ’51 MF (1924 – 2022) passed away in 2022. Born in San Francisco, Peter served in the Navy during WW II. His first job in Southern Brazil started him on an international career, mostly in Latin America, with four years in Ecuador, and then some time in Australia. 

He was an avid outdoorsman and duck hunter. He collected a lifetime’s worth of stories and experiences in his book, “Ripples on the Water: Memories from Eighty Years of Shooting and Fishing.”

In the early 1970s, Peter was among the first to see the promise of vineyards in Nevada County, California, becoming the manager of Little Wolf Vineyard. Being a forester and hunter hadn’t prepared Peter for grape growing, but he was a quick study. In 1976 he was instrumental in the organization of the Nevada County Grape Growers Association. In 1978 he was ready to plant his own vineyard; two acres of Sauvignon blanc. By 1981 he was chairman of the Nevada County Grape Advisory Board. But there was still no local winery. In 1980 a group of local investors came together to start Nevada City Winery, and Peter was one of the founding partners. 

Peter lived his 98 years to the fullest, a connoisseur of the finer things in life who felt most at home in the great outdoors.  

Peter Blanchard III ’86 MFS (1951 – 2022) passed away on August 7, 2022. Born in Manhattan, he would later work alongside his wife and others to transform the New Jersey estate where he grew up, Greenwood Gardens, into a magnificent public garden.

Peter received his undergraduate degree from Princeton and went on to earn master’s degrees from Columbia University’s Teachers College and YSE, of which he was a longtime Annual Fund supporter.

An elegant writer, prolific reader, and landscape painter, Peter was most at home in the woods, but when necessary, he donned a tuxedo (or the “Iron Maiden” as he called it) to support the causes he championed. Peter served for many years on the boards of The Frick Collection and the Helen Clay Frick Foundation and as a council member of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

Peter is remembered as a person who lived his life with integrity, kindness, and purpose and whose humor and irreverence were never far from the surface.

Kenneth L. Carvell ’50 MF (1925 – 2021) passed away on September 24, 2021. Born in Andover, Massachusetts, Kenneth served in the 29th Infantry Division in Europe during World War II, receiving both a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Upon returning home, he earned a bachelor’s degree in botany from Harvard and his master’s in forestry from YSE. He joined the West Virginia University Division of Forestry and Natural Resources in 1953, where he taught until retiring in 1988 as professor emeritus of forest ecology. He earned numerous honors, including being elected a fellow in the Society of American Foresters.

Kenneth was active in many community organizations, including the Izaak Walton League, The Nature Conservancy, and his city council. Kenneth and his wife, Elsie Scott, received the 2011 Senior Citizens of the Year award from the Celebration of America Committee for their efforts to record and preserve the history of Monongalia County, West Virginia. He was a member of the Monongalia Historical Society and a frequent contributor to Wonderful West Virginia magazine.

Caroline Simmonds Cook ’06 MEM ​(1976 – 2022)​ passed away on April 6, 2022, at home in Takoma Park, Maryland, after a brave 18-month battle with a rare type of brain cancer. Born in Pennsylvania, Caroline graduated from Cornell University in 1998 with a degree in biology and society. Caroline traveled the world, spending two years in Malawi as a Peace Corps volunteer, working in Botswana for a safari outfitter, supporting a research project in the Peruvian Andes, and counting Atlantic puffins in Maine.

Beloved by her classmates at YSE, Caroline was known for her vivacious, inquisitive personality and charm. While at YSE, she met her husband, Jonathan Cook ’04. After her time at YSE, she went to work for the World Wildlife Fund’s Coastal East Africa program and later played a key role at Environmental Incentives, a development consulting firm. ​

Caroline was a force of nature, with a tremendously bright spark and radiant smile and an ability to pull people together and sustain friendships from all stages of her life. Caroline loved nature, gardening, travel, and spending time with her family, including Jonathan and their young children, Gabriel and Oliver.

John Bernard Cote ’69 MF (1935 – 2022) passed away on November 19, 2022, in Greenville, Maine, at home surrounded by his family. Born in Chicago, John received a Bachelor of Science degree in forestry from the University of New Hampshire before attending YSE, where he focused on corporate financing. After YSE, he worked for several different Maine forestry and lumber companies over the course of his career, and upon retirement, he started his own business as a forest management consultant.

At 70, John retired completely and pursued his lifelong passion of fly fishing in earnest in the ponds, lakes, and rivers in the Greenville area, continuing to add to the fishing journals he kept for 47 years. John also loved to garden, a passion he shared with his wife, Ray Cote, and created beautiful flower beds and delightful landscaping. John is remembered as a man of enjoyable company and integrity who was sharp witted, intelligent, and a loving and beloved father and husband.

Douglas M. Crutchfield ’56 MF (1931 – 2020) passed away on March 17, 2020. Born in New York City in the early years of the Great Depression, Doug went on to receive a Bachelor of Science in forest management from North Carolina State University and served in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955 before coming to Yale for his master’s in forestry. Doug was a member for over 75 years of the Boy Scouts of America, where he was an Eagle Scout and Scoutmaster in North Carolina. Doug was also a Revolutionary War reenactor and a docent and guide at Middleton Place, a National Historic Landmark with a focus on the lives and contributions of Africans and African Americans — both enslaved and free — who labored at Middleton Place and other plantations throughout the South, as well as the Middleton family.

Donald P. Fowler ’56 MF, ’64 PhD (1932 – 2021) passed away on December 18, 2021, at his home on the Saint John River. A Connecticut native, Don spent his summers on his grandparents’ farm in New Brunswick, Canada. He attended the forestry program at the University of New Brunswick and completed both a master’s in forestry and a doctoral degree in forest genetics at YSE. Following his time at YSE, he spent a decade with the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests before joining the Canadian Forest Service, where he focused on tree improvement and forest genetics. The author of numerous papers, his research resulted in substantial advances in the science and practice of forestry, for which he was recognized with the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and named the recipient of the Canadian Forestry Scientific Achievement Award.

Described as brilliant, funny, generous, and kind, Don was a great lover of nature who shared his knowledge with all who were interested. He was an enthusiastic birder, gardener, and fisherman, and his annual canoe trips with his wife, Rita, and friends on the Saint John, Upsalquitch, Miramichi, and Restigouche rivers were the stuff of legends. Don is deeply missed by his family and his many friends in both Canada and Mexico.

Gordon Hall III ’54 (1930 – 2022)​ passed away on October 9, 2022, in Marblehead, Massachusetts. A real estate developer, author, conservationist, and sailor, Gordon lived a long life abundant with achievements and impact.

Gordon, who studied forestry at YSE, helped implement a new concept of conserving, restoring, and converting historic commercial buildings as a consultant to the Boston Redevelopment Authority on the Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall restoration in the 1960s and later served as director of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities.

Gordon loved fly fishing, skiing, and canoeing the Allagash and Penobscot rivers with family and friends. He also excelled as a competitive sailor, leading his crew on the Katabatic, which was “the boat to beat” in New England for over two decades. An ardent environmental conservationist, he served as a trustee of the Conservation Law Foundation, Forest Society of Maine, Appalachian Mountain Club, and Chewonki Foundation.  Gordon also served as president and chair of the Berkshire Choral Festival and published two books: “Satan in the Pulpit,” a history of the founding of Andover and Exeter, and, with Don MacNaughton, “Lord Jeffery Amherst,” a history of Amherst’s service before the American Revolution.

He will be deeply missed by his wife and lovingly remembered by the devoted friends whose lives he touched with his charm and generosity.

Harry E. Hopkins ’52 MF (1929 – 2022) passed away September 21, 2022. Born in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, he attended the University of Massachusetts before pursuing his master’s in forestry at YSE. After graduating, he served honorably in the U.S. Army in Germany from 1952 to 1954 and then had a 33-year career at the U.S. Forest Service, primarily in Northern California.

In 1957, he married Karen Adele Johnson and enjoyed 65 years of marriage and his five children. Vacations to his beloved Cape Cod were highlights, as were numerous cross-country trips after retirement and special trips to Nova Scotia, British Columbia, and several countries in Africa. Harry was a man of faith since his teen years and enjoyed being in God’s creation.

Nam-Yeng “Mark” Lam 20 MEM (1957 – 2022) passed away in early 2022 following a car accident in his native country of Taiwan. Mark was a CEO of Live365, an internet radio network where users are able to create their own online radio stations and listen to thousands of human-curated stations. He became CEO in 2004, helping the company survive by securing the necessary funding following the dot-com crash of the early 2000s. A champion of small webcasters and independent artists, he was a founding member of the Digital Media Association (DiMA) and participated in numerous congressional hearings, fighting for a place at the table for small webcasters and independent artists. 

Mark attended Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, and then UCLA before attending YSE as a midcareer student, with plans to teach international business and pursue a new career in green architecture. He was working on innovative projects with his partners in Taiwan at the time of his accident. He will be greatly missed. 

Jennifer Kitchel Reining ’90 MES (1965 – 2022) passed away January 13, 2022, of metastatic breast cancer at her beloved home in East Thetford, Vermont. Growing up in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Jennifer attended rural elementary schools and in high school ferried herself to soccer practice in New Hampshire, crossing the Connecticut River by canoe. Jennifer attended Dartmouth College, graduating in 1987 with a major in art history and a minor in geology and earned her master’s degree in environmental science at YSE. While at YSE, she met Conrad Reining ’89, whom she married in 1994. Conrad and Jennifer have two children, Charlotte and Anabel.

After her time at YSE, Jennifer earned a JD from Vermont Law School, graduating magna cum laude. Conrad writes: “As anyone who encountered Jennifer can tell you, she brought a fierce intellect, wry sense of humor, and deep humanity to everything she did. ... A fundamentally humane and humble person, Jennifer had a steely determination when confronted with injustice and incompetence. And she rarely lost a debate. Yet she also knew how to really enjoy life, ferreting out the most exquisite music, food, and art; regaling you with sidesplitting stories; singing in perfect tune; and performing stand-up comedy all while wearing her signature red lipstick that was invariably purchased at a most amazing discount price! ... And let us not forget, as she would say, to ‘text your mom’ and in everything you do, ‘be kind, and make it fun.’”

Jim Rue ’83 MFS/MPPM (1949 – 2022) passed away on July 19, 2022, in the house built by his grandfather in 1910 in which he was born. While at Yale earning a master’s of forest science and a master’s degree in public policy and management, he met his beloved spouse, Mignon Mazique ’81 MA, ’87 PhD, and the pair raised two children, Seth and Leah. Following his time at YSE, Jim worked as deputy director for the Audubon Society, ran a successful Rhode Island congressional campaign, served as deputy director of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Quality, and helped start two biotech companies before returning to Oregon.

Jim loved Oregon, its land, and its people deeply and worked to retain its natural beauty, agricultural robustness, and livability. During his time in Oregon, Jim led the negotiations around the cessation of mining on an island in the Willamette River and the associated environmental cleanup and the creation of recreational space and habitat. For the last 11 years, he served as director of the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, where he employed Oregon’s landmark statewide land use system to ensure the preservation of rural lands. Jim’s leadership evoked the loyalty and admiration of his co-workers, including Hui Rodomsky ’10 MESc, who shared Jim’s pride in the recent passage of the Climate-Friendly and Equitable Communities rules that limit pollution from transportation, increase housing availability for all, and create pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods.

Jim retired just months before his unexpected illness and passing. His plan in retirement had been to work with scientists at Stanford on the potential applications of stem cell therapies for treatment of cerebral palsy. Jim will be remembered as a person who was full of life; a wise advisor and trusted confidant always ready with a pun; and a man devoted to his work, family, and community. He was an optimist, indomitable in his faith in a better world, committed to a better future, and convinced he could bring it about.

Donald G. Schall ’68 MFS (1944 – 2021) passed away on November 28, 2021. Don had a long and interesting career walking and observing the wilds as an expert botanist and wetlands scientist. Born in New Jersey, Don was a proud graduate of YSE, and after his time at the School he became the director of the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in his mid-20s. Over the years, he was a conservation commissioner in Brewster, Massachusetts, president of the Botanical Club of Cape Cod and the Islands (BCCCl), active in the New England Botanical Society, and involved in the Brewster Conservation Trust. Don became well known for his botanical expertise and worked on many rare species surveys and complicated projects in and beyond Massachusetts.

Colleagues remember Don as a mentor who could make a special connection with almost anyone he worked with in the field. He was generous with his time and very willing to share his knowledge with infectious enthusiasm.

Robert E. Schweitzer ’66 MF (1938 – 2022) passed away on December 25, 2022. An adored husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend, Bob attended the University of Maine before coming to YSE. He proudly served in the U.S. Army and went on to work for more than four decades in the United States Forest Service in Oregon and at the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, including as district forester in Ebensburg.

He was a lifelong member of the Knights of Columbus and a supporter of the Cambria County Conservation District, the Pennsylvania Forest Fire Museum Association, the Society of American Foresters, the Holy Name Catholic Church in Ebensburg, and the St. Vincent De Paul Society Food Bank, among others.

Bob was married to the love of his life, Arlene, for 56 years. He had four children and 11 grandchildren.

Towsend “T” Swayze ’92 MES (1937 – 2022) passed away on August 4, 2022, in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Born in New York, Townsend attended Harvard College, where he was captain of the undefeated heavyweight rowing crew and graduated cum laude in 1959. He earned a master’s in English at Oxford University in 1961 and a master’s in economics at Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton in 1963. He then joined the U.S. Agency for International Development, where he was a Pakistan desk officer during the time East Pakistan sought its independence. He eventually resigned from foreign service in protest of policies he and colleagues thought harmful and joined the World Bank. In 2012 Townsend was invited to Dhaka by the government of Bangladesh to receive an award recognizing his role in supporting its independence in 1971. By nature a modest man, Townsend was particularly proud of this honor.

After decades working at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., he took a sabbatical to complete a one-year midcareer degree at YSE. Technically a member of the Class of 1992, he is also enthusiastically claimed by members of the Class of 1993, with whom he started at the School. He is survived by his wife, Felicity; his adult children Peter and India; and his grandchildren.

Verner Stor Wilson III ’15 MEM (1986 – 2023) passed away on March 23, 2023. Born and raised in rural Alaska, Verner learned to value conservation and environmental sustainability at an early age. He was a passionate advocate for the protection of Bristol Bay and its wild salmon, spending his summers commercial fishing with his father.

Verner came to YSE after completing his undergraduate studies at Brown University. He went on to work with organizations including the World Wildlife Fund, Friends of the Earth, and the Bristol Bay Native Association, where he was director of natural resources, focusing on regional strategies to adapt to climate change, international shipping issues, and co-management of the region's fisheries. He devoted a substantial part of his adult life to campaigning against the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay.

Verner loved traveling the globe, exploring new cultures, and working to preserve the natural world for future generations—but he always returned home to the Alaskan community he was so firmly rooted in. He was an outspoken member of the LGBTQ community and was predeceased by his partner, David Croswell. He was particularly fond of pangolins, manatees, and the beauty of nature. He was mischievous and funny, cheerful, kind, and compassionate, and always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need.